Sorry for the ridiculously long period between updates!
"We can go shopping for your wedding while we're in Hogsmeade!" Cassie said.
I rolled my eyes. "Even if Regulus and I had a wedding, we wouldn't have it until after our last year of Hogwarts."
"Well, you don't want to procrastinate," Emma said. "It won't hurt to start shopping now."
"You guys are unbelievable."
"Just trying to help," Kendra grinned.
I rolled my eyes again and waved at them as I reached the door. "I'll see you later. I'm going to get to Hogsmeade early so all of the good candy won't be taken."
"See you later!"
"Get me some Ice Mice!"
Most of the crowd hadn't yet begun traveling to Hogsmeade, so I made it there in very good time. I stopped by the candy shop first, of course, and bought all of the candy that I needed. Then, I went in to have myself fitted for a new set of dress robes in a beautiful bronze color that made my eyes pop.
Cassie met me in the shop. "Getting fitted for your wedding?"
"Wedding?" The witch that was fitting me said in surprise. Her gaze flicked to the ring on my hand and she brightened. "Oh, we have lovely dresses that just came in. I could-"
"No," I interrupted and shot Cassie a look. "I don't quite know if there'll actually be a ceremony yet."
"Oh, but you must!" she gasped. "You would be the most beautiful bride anyone has ever seen!"
Cassie grinned triumphantly. "That's what we all told her."
The witch nodded. "You should listen to your friends."
I rolled my eyes. "Now that that's cleared up, can I get these robes?"
"Oh, of course." She waved her wand and they began folding themselves. "Here. You can pay up front."
After I had paid, Cassie and I left the shop and went to The Three Broomsticks for some butterbeer. It was her treat, and I thanked her when our drinks were set in front of us.
"Don't thank me," she grinned. "I did it so you'd feel like you had to answer my questions."
I raised an eyebrow as I spoke carefully. "What questions?"
"Oh, come on," she said. "You know I've never had a boyfriend. I don't get to experience the fun things."
It was true; she'd never had a boyfriend. But that was her fault. "You've been asked out, Cassie. You've just never agreed to go out with anyone."
She shrugged. "Still, the fact remains that I've only been kissed once. And that Hufflepuff used way too much tongue. Is Regulus a good kisser?"
I blushed. "Cassie, I'm not really sure that's what we should be talking about."
She laughed. "He must be, then, because you're blushing. And, well, you decided to marry him." She gestured to my ring. "Why would you decide to marry him if he was a bad kisser? That would be horrible, wouldn't it? Dreading having to kiss your own husband…"
I shook my head slowly. "Yeah, I guess it would."
"So…" Her smile was suggestive. "Have you two done anything other than kissing?"
I groaned. "Let's not talk about that, shall we?"
Her eyes widened and she gasped. "You have?"
"No!" I said and then hesitated. "Well… not really."
"Elaboration?" she requested.
"There's been…" my blush increased, "… some clothing removal. But we haven't… you know."
"That's still impressive for you. You've always been so… conserved with guys."
I smiled. "Waiting for the right one is important."
"If you're lucky enough to find the right one," she grumbled and took a long swig of butterbeer. "I'm thinking that if I'm not married by age twenty-five, I'll accept the proposal of the first guy that asks."
"Cassie!" I said. "You can't do that! You could end up with a total loser! Being married isn't a have to."
"Everyone who says that is either already married, about to be married, or has a prospect for marriage," she sighed.
"Cassie, you're incredible," I told her. "And the guy that gets you is going to be so lucky. And you better make sure that he knows that. I'll make sure that he knows that. Don't settle, okay?"
"How picky can you be when you're a walking energy drink?" she giggled.
"There's a guy out there that's perfect for you," I said. "And he'll find you soon."
"Or he's lost somewhere in Siberia," she muttered.
I threw a wadded napkin at her. "Stop that. No more being negative."
A scream from outside cut off her reply.
She looked at me in alarm, all traces of humor gone. "What was that?"
"I don't know…"
People inside The Three Broomsticks began moving around uneasily, some moving outside to check it out.
"Jen…" Cassie said uncertainly.
I stood and grabbed my packages. "We need to get out of here." Something inside of me was screaming to get out. That something had gone horribly wrong. "Come on, we'll go out the back door."
She followed me through the maze of people and helped me push open the back door. She stepped outside first and then I followed. "Come on, we have to move."
"Jen…" There was fear in Cassie's normally cheerful voice.
"It's okay, Cassie, just get back to Hogwarts. Come on, I'm right behind you."
She kept moving and I followed.
But when she rounded a corner, a flash of green light hit her chest and she fell, eyes open, not moving.
Somehow, my wand was in my hand.
And I was facing off with a hooded figure clad in black.
We stumbled upon the chaos, unsure at first as to what we were seeing.
People were running around in senseless patterns, screaming and calling out for loved ones.
A couple of buildings were on fire.
There was the sound of spells being cast.
Sounds of horrible agony.
And hooded figures dressed in black in the midst of it all.
"James!" Lily called, alerting me just in time for me to avoid a Killing Curse.
And then we were in the fight.
I didn't know how many Death Eaters there were, but there were a lot, and they had certainly done some damage. There were bodies everywhere, though less were falling now that people were aware that there was an attack going on. Witches and wizards were fighting back with everything they had, Hogwarts students among them. Of course, I also knew that there were some Hogwarts students among those black clad figures…
Sirius was suddenly next to me, light flying from his wand.
"Lily?" I shouted.
He shrugged helplessly and stunned his opponent.
"Find her!" I begged. "Find Jen!"
He turned into his Animagi form and disappeared.
I'm still not sure how long the whole thing lasted.
It felt like it lasted for hours.
At one point, though, it began to slow down. Death Eaters were starting to figure out that they'd done as much damage as they could do and were Disapparating. Some were dead. I took this opportunity to go in search of the two women I loved most in the world.
Lily was with Sirius, seemingly unharmed, but it took many reassurances from both him and her until I would believe that she was really okay.
"Jen?" I asked Sirius.
He shook his head. "I couldn't find her. I found Lily first."
"We have to find her."
So the three of us took off through the people that were fighting the remaining Death Eaters.
When I found her, I froze.
She was on the ground, bleeding from a wound on her head. A Death Eater had been closing in on her, but found that he had to face a new opponent to get to her.
He fearlessly shot spells at the Death Eater, his intensity evident even from where I was standing.
"He's fighting a Death Eater," I said dumbly. "He's… he's protecting her."
Sirius, beside me, seemed to be in equal shock.
Lily looked like she hadn't expected anything else.
Regulus eventually dispatched his opponent and then he was instantly kneeling by Jen's side, checking for her pulse.
That's when I moved in.
When I got too close, he snapped his head up, wand pointed at me.
I raised my hands. "Easy."
He relaxed and softened. "She's breathing. She just got knocked out."
I knelt on the other side of her and found that he'd been telling the truth. "We have to get her to the hospital wing."
He nodded. "I know."
Before he could pick her up, though, I put a hand on his arm, staying him.
He looked at me in surprise.
I took a breath. "What you did… defending her like that…." I took another breath. "I was wrong about you. And seeing you protecting her at the cost of your own life proved just how wrong I was. And I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted," he said and scooped my sister up into his arms.